Fireplaces, Islands, and Tables

After we refined our exterior colors and finishes (and got approval from the HOA, yay!) we turned out attention back to the interior of the house. We had a few things to figure out: the selection and location of the fireplace, the length and position of the kitchen island, and the position and orientation of the kitchen table.


Our plans called for a three-sided “peninsula fireplace” along the north wall of our house, somewhat dividing the kitchen area from a reading nook.

The setup is a little unusual, but it kept the fireplace out of the way of our big windows that frame views to the south and to the west. We also figured it would help divide up what is otherwise a pretty large space. And finally, by raising the firebox a little higher than normal, it would also permit the fire to be visible from many parts of the living room/dining room/kitchen space – an idea we borrowed from A Pattern Language.

First, we had to select a fireplace. We liked this Kingsman, and a similar Marquis and Montigo. This frameless Urbana was slick, but didn’t have a long enough peninsula for the dividing look we were looking for. Others, like this Empire, had large louvres or supports that seemed to get in the way of the aesthetic. A big frameless “Space Creator” looked rad but was a little too “modern” and also too much money. Ultimately, we went with the Kingsman, which fit our dimensions and price:

Next, we had to figure out where to put it. After walking through the house and mocking up some locations, we decided to push the fireplace as far west, away from the kitchen, as possible. This would allow more circulation space around the kitchen island, as well as expanding the space between the fireplace and the kitchen to allow for an alcohol/coffee bar. One minor impact of the adjustment was that it placed our three high transom windows off-center in the space between the fireplace and the wall:

…the vertical line frames a portion of the fireplace divider. We debated the issue a bit, but decided that with such big views to the south, people weren’t likely to spend a lot of time worrying about the symmetry of the transom windows. It also allowed for a larger bench to form around the bottom of the fireplace for a nice warm sitting space.

Once the framing was in for the fireplace we were happy with the orientation. It split up the space well, and should allow for plenty of fireplace viewing:

Kitchen Island

Next, we had to determine the length and orientation of the kitchen island. Our original plans called for an island up to 12 feet long – we have plenty of space to work with. But after zeroing in on a marble-like quartz countertop, we learned that the largest “jumbo” quartz slabs available were usually 10.5 feet long. That meant either a seam in the big quartz centerpiece of the kitchen, or downsizing the kitchen island slightly. Downsizing by a foot and a half would reduce our storage a bit, but it would also allow for more circulation space around the ends of the island.

We mapped out the contours of the island with scrap and decided that a 10-10.5 foot island fit in the space well, and should still give us plenty of storage space.

kitchen island placement

Once we refined the cabinet layout accordingly, we got this:

While it wasn’t the final design in terms of the stove hood or countertops, it gave us the basis for shopping around for specific cabinet quotes.

Dining Table

Finally, we needed to site our dining table. While furniture placement wasn’t ultra-critical yet, we wanted to place a set of three pendant lights over the dining table. With electrical work on the horizon, we needed to figure out the dining table’s location before we could figure out the placement of the lights. Again, we worked with scraps to place the table in real life:

Mainly, we wanted to make sure there was enough space to the right of the table to allow for people to walk out the sliding glass door to the patio – the door opening will be on the right side of the existing opening. Once we found a general location we like, we took notes and sent them over to Shaun so he could refine the lighting plan.

Book Reviews

A few more mini book reviews:

Magical Rooms: “Magical” is code for “clashy” or “gaudy.” Lots of glam and big patterns, and very much not our style.

Modern Space: Another “modern” book from the early 2000s that feels more dated than I would expect.

Meditations on Design: Sort of another simplified and illustrated Pattern Language.